The Vision Of A New Society: 34 ►Socialism, Communism and Capitalism

Published: 10.11.2019

Religion has its own use for society. But society cannot go on merely on the basis of religion. From this point of view, in the matter of social life, new ideas are continuously born in the field of economics as the field of religion. Some people in the economic field have pre­sented their contingent ideas which have created a new stir. Among these people, the names of Gandhi, Marx, and Keynes etc. deserve a special mention. Their ideas can be discussed in the context of Socialism, Communism and Capitalism.

Gandhi's Philosophy

Gandhi was a spiritually minded person. He carried out several experiments in his life. He had profound faith in non-violence. He wanted to make his faith universal. His concern was the betterment of the society, country or the entire human race. His philosophy was not individu­alistic, but society-oriented. The Sarvodaya movement started by Vinobaji had its origin in the mind of Gandhi, who could not find an opportunity to carry out the idea.

Had he been able to live for a few more years, he would have been in a position to provide a new outlook to people in the front rank and right up to those in the last rank.

India was a dependent country. The freedom struggle was on. The fire of revolt raged in the minds of the people, which could have burst into a violent explosion any time. But Gandhiji, their leader, believed in non-violence. He was very keen about the purity of means. He did not give his approval to freedom won through violent methods. His aim of freeing the country through non-violence was fulfilled. Inspired by the ideas of non-violence and equality, he tried very hard to put an end to apartheid, casteism and untouchability. It is another matter that his attempts did not succeed. But the philosophy he gave us only reflected his concepts of socialism or sarvodaya. The great achievement of Gandhi was that he introduced in society and politics non-violence which was confined only to individual life.

Marx's Contribution

Karl Marx was born in Germany. He could not have been acquainted with Indian spiritual outlook. But he too was compassionate at heart. He thought Millions in the country are hungry. They do not get enough to eat. They do not get enough clothes to wear. They do not have houses to live in. How long could such a situation go on? It is not a happy state in any country that a handful of people should be rolling in wealth and the rest of the people should be suffering untold hardships, living in poverty and want.

Marx concentrated his attention on the poor people, proletarians and the oppressed class. He tried to lift them out of their conditions. He must have thought that everything would go well if those people were well. If their conditions improved, the gaping inequalities would auto­matically disappear. He presented the idea of Commu­nism. Non-violence was not unacceptable to him. But when non-violence did not serve the purpose, he opted for violence. He said, "In order to attain the goal, just any means easily available should be used."

Today, in Russia, the Marxian concepts are being questioned. The Soviet Union has disintegrated. Commu­nism seems to be irrelevant there today. Whether or not communism succeeded is a subject to be independently reviewed. But Marx did the remarkable thing of breaking the blind faith of the people and that is a great contribution of his original thinking. Prior to that, people were convinced that prosperity and poverty were the fruits of one's own fate and it was not correct to blame anyone for that state. Marx installed endeavour in the place of karma fate.

A revolution began in Russia on the basis of the principle that even fate can be changed through endeavour.

Keynesian Concept

Keynes was inclined towards Capitalism. He was in favour of making his country prosperous; he did not accept the theory of class conflict. His view was: "If all people cannot become rich, let those who can do it, rise to the peak of property. There should be more prosperity in the country. In that matter, there is no need to get entangled in the questions of morality and immorality. If the people are hungry, would morality satisfy their hunger? If the country prospers, if people are free from care, there would be enough scope for discussing moral values."

Why Fascination for Mahavira?

After Gandhi, Marx and Keynes, I am coming to Mahavira for discussion. Mahavira's philosophy was entirely spiritual. I am following the path indicated by him. He is the one whom I worship. He is everything for me. I have no one else on whom to depend. I am saying this not just out of my faith in him. Acharya Hemachandra has written in adulation of Mahavira:
Mahavira, it is not that we respect you or give importance to your philosophy because we cherish faith in you and love your religion. It is also not true that we are not attracted by other philosophers and religious preachers or do not have faith in them because we have any ill-feeling towards them. Lord! We have tested you. We have accepted your credibility after severe examination. We have discovered that you know Truth correctly and enunciate it in the correct from. It is because of this characteristic quality in you that we have come under your protection.[1]

Mahavira Did not Insist on His Own Truth

Mahavira lived in total conformity to the philosophy he propounded. He revealed the Truth to the people as He found it. But he did not compel anyone to accept it. He said, "Discover Truth yourself." Do not stop at the truth discovered by someone else. Carry on with your own quest. Borrowed Truth can never be one's own. He who sits back depending on such Truth can never discover the Truth of his own.

Mahavira said, "Oh, man with intelligence, you see for yourself.[1a] It is necessary to listen to what someone else has to say, do so, but think over it with your own mind. Accepting someone's word without applying your mind to it and understanding it, is not an intelligent thing to do. Listen to everyone, but follow in practice only what is good.[2]What a generous and broad outlook! That is why we are fascinated by Mahavira. His outlook of open-mindedness and being forthright alone is Truth. It is only on that basis that we may accept good points even from the people who are not trustworthy. It is on this basis that the tradition of comparative study of religions and philosophies is being carried on.

Factors Hampering Peace

The aim of Mahavira's sadhana was to unveil the veiled powers of faith. Discarding the cover of knowledge and intuition, he attained omniscience and Omni vision. He had already defeated mohakarma(deluding karma) distorts the soul. The karmas which hamper the bound­less capacity of the soul were eliminated. All underlying sources of knowledge and intuition became manifest in Mahavira. Endless joy emanated from his soul. His infinite powers were awakened. He established tirtha (Religious order) after attaining omniscience. After set­ting up four tirtha for the monks, the nuns, the sravakas and the sravikas he became a Tirthankara.

Mahavira gave two forms of religion: anagara dharma[3]and agara dharma.[4]Those who follow the anagara dharma observe the five big vows of non­violence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy and non-possession of wealth. Those who follow the agara dharma observe these five vows within limits and for that reason they are called small vows. In the observance of the vow of non-possession of wealth, the problem of prosperity and poverty is not involved. That problem arises when there is a craving for earning, accumulating and enjoying wealth. Though a householder is not indifferent to accumulation of wealth, he has to solve the problems resulting from the accumulation of wealth.
Some people went to Mahavira and said, "Respected one, we wish to live peacefully. But our mind is not at rest. What should we do? Which path should we follow? Kindly guide us." Mahavira said, "Mental peace and disturbance are within you. It is for you to decide what you wish. If you desire peace, you would have to limit your aspira­tions. The material resource of the world is limited. How is it possible that you will set peace while you aspire for unlimited wealth? Another thing to consider is that if you monopolies everything, other people would not be able to satisfy their needs. Both situations in which one person obtains a lot and another person goes hungry are a hindrance to peace.

The Solution

The mundane life cannot be carried on without money. No person living in society can avoid possessing wealth. He cannot live even by begging. A bhikshu(ascetic) can live by asking for alms. But if a householder goes begging, he is discredited by society. That is why he cannot be indifferent to earning money. Therefore, it is not the function of religion to put a ban on earning and using money for living by householders. Mahavira said “Limit your aspirations. Be particular about the pursuit of the means. Be restrained in your material consump­tion." This is the safe way to attain peace and happiness.

Epicurean mentality cannot take kindly to any mention of restraint. When Epicureanism becomes unre­strained, a person does not hesitate to trample over the interests of other people in order to pursue his own interests. No restraint has no place in Mahavira's economics. Non-restraint, whether, physical desires or in practical behaviour leads to more problems. Today, the whole world is invaded by problems. Attempts are being made to find solutions, but they are not in the right direction. Fire cannot be extinguished by adding more fuel to it. Aspirations cannot be satisfied by resorting to increased production, more earning and more consump­tion. In such situation, the principle of restraint is the only horizon that can open the ways to find solution to the problems.


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Title:  The Vision Of New Society
Author:  Acharya Tulsi
Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Hemachandra
  3. Anagara dharma
  4. Bhikshu
  5. Casteism
  6. Celibacy
  7. Dharma
  8. Gandhiji
  9. Hemachandra
  10. Karma
  11. Karmas
  12. Mahavira
  13. Non-violence
  14. Sadhana
  15. Sarvodaya
  16. Soul
  17. Sravakas
  18. Sravikas
  19. Tirtha
  20. Tirthankara
  21. Violence
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